Bag of Bones
Author: Stephen King
There are three stories that run through Stephen King’s Bag of Bones. The book begins with the story of a writer whose wife dies of sudden aneurysm. The wife was at a store, buying a pregnancy test, and it seems to the writer that she may have had secrets that he was unaware of. After her death the writer (Michael Noonan) develops writer’s block for about four years. Not just any ordinary writer’s block, but a visceral physical reaction if he even tries to sit and write at the computer. Mike ends up leaving his home to stay at the vacation home he and his wife would frequent, where the other two plot threads begin to intersect.
The vacation home has the odd name of Sara Laughs, named after an African American singer who died around the turn of the (nineteenth) century. In addition to that information, Mike also begins to find out about other mysterious drownings at the property, generally involving children. While he’s staying in the house, he hears sounds like a child crying, and the magnets on his refrigerator begin to spell out messages. Mike decides to stay because he believes some of the messages are from his dead wife.
Shortly after moving to Sara Laughs, Mike nearly runs over a three year old girl walking down the middle of the street. When he stops to help her, the girls mother nearly runs them over as she’s in a panic driving around looking for the daughter. The girl’s mom, Mattie, ends up being a 20 year old beauty who makes every guy fall in love with her. But there’s a catch. Mattie’s a widow, and her dead husband’s got an elderly millionaire relative who is trying any means possible to get Mattie’s daughter removed from her custody and returned to the family.
The three storylines all end up interacting, but the lameness of the ghost storyline ends up dragging the whole book down. The mystery of Mike’s wife and his writer’s block never really developed or went anywhere. The storyline with Mattie and her crazy relatives actually had my interest for a decent chunk of the book. However, when it all boils down a ghost story at the end, a few flashbacks about characters we’ve never met did nothing to invest me in the outcome. At just over 700 pages, when I was at page 675 I told my wife I did not care whatsoever what happened in the rest of the book.
The forgettable ending (having just finished it, I’m already having trouble recalling what happened to Sara’s spirit) combined with a few other complaints (Mattie’s daughter Kyra in particular is the type of book child that I can’t stand to read about, dropping nuggets of wisdom in between big pronouncing big words and immediately latching on the strange men) kept this book from getting a higher score. It’s unfortunate as there were some great moments, particularly involving the rich Devore’s attempts to both get Kyra and dispatch of Michael.